MACA ROOT… GET THE FACTS!
A condensed version of this article first appeared on Vista Magazine, January-February Edition No. 104
You may have heard about Maca, may have taken this product or encountered it as one of the ingredients of your favourite supplement or food, but did you know what’s really behind this product?
As it was cited on my previous article, “Meet Your Highness: The Maca Root from Peru”, Maca is originally grown in the highlands of Peru, specifically in the Junin Plateau at 14,000ft altitude; it grows in a volcanic soil region under harsh climate conditions… in fact, it is the only crop that grows in this area and that makes it unique!
A wild crop in the early Inca times is now organically farmed by the locals in this magnificent and forgotten place.
There are different colours of Maca, Black, Red-Purple and Yellow, the last being one the most common variety and certainly the least in nutrients and compounds responsible for the known benefits of this product. Maca by far is the best product for hormonal balance, energy and well-being, benefits for which darker roots are accountable for.
Maca roots coming from its original habitat in Peru have been studied and researched for many years, and it’s being established that crops coming from this area are safe with no known toxicity, side effects or possible interactions whatsoever.
So what is the problem now?
Since its introduction in the market, the demand of Maca products have increased substantially causing the attraction of many entrepreneurs to grow this crop out of its natural and original habitat. China was the first country to do so and although many others follow the same path; luckily for us, none of them were successful — the resulting products were useless with no nutrition or benefits at all.
The same situation happened with other crops grown in different regions of Peru. Due to the high demand and price paid for this precious crop, many Peruvians embarked on the farming of maca roots outside its original habitat with a terrible outcome of unusable products; even though the products resembled the original maca root, none of them provided the benefits known and studied for many years.
Maca roots grown out of its original habitat will not produce darker roots nor the known benefits; plain and simple. Different soil, weather, temperatures and care are important factors that make this product different and so amazing! Maca roots must go through a natural freeze drying process, a very important ancient practice to obtain the healthy benefits known on this product; this simple but unique process allows the transformation of this product generating new complex bio-chemical compounds not present on the fresh harvested root — this is only possible with roots originally grown in the Junin Plateau!
Always look for reliable companies with plenty of experience and proven record manufacturing good quality products in the market, it is very common nowadays to see companies jumping on the “maca business” without knowing what they are buying or what’s in it to say the least.
Be aware of the differences on the products by observing a few basic points:
- Colour — If the product is light beige or yellow, the product was manufactured with lighter roots for sure. Yellow roots are the most common and cheaper variety of maca, its nutritional profile is considered “low” and far distant from the ones obtained from the darker roots, a good product to start for sure but not the best if you are looking for all the good benefits on maca. Black and Purple Maca roots are rare and scarce and its nutritional profile substantially rich, and yes, the root is dark inside too!
- Taste — If the product is sweet to the taste and light in colour, then yellow roots were used in the manufacturing for sure. Yellow maca roots are normally sweeter than the black and purple roots, nevertheless . If the product tastes like horse radish, a bit spicy and strong to say the least, then the product was manufactured from fresh roots, not dried roots. Fresh roots in its natural state have not been transformed and no bio chemical compounds are developed, the product is completely different, if processed correctly you’ll find a product rich in nutrients and enzymes, but the usual benefits sought after in maca, like hormonal balance and energy, are not available as the nutrients that bring these benefits forward have not been developed on fresh roots.
- Aroma — If the aroma is somehow “mouldy” or a bit off, then the product is probably not from a good source. Good maca products should have a pleasant nutty, butter-scotch like aroma if made from dried roots or horse radish like aroma if made from fresh roots.
- Texture — The product must be soft like baby powder, if rough to the touch or a bit granulated, it may contain fillers (magnesium stearate, silica or similar) and that is definitely not good for you.
- Process — Gelatinized or regular powder, which one is best? Gelatinized maca typically was processed with high heat while regular powder is not. What is Gelatinization? Gelatinization is a process that transforms the raw starches of the root making them more absorbable and digestible in our system; it is an industrial process usually made in an extruder and high heat is definitely required to achieve the desired results. While this process makes the nutrients more absorbable and digestible, the high heat required for this process destroys most them, leaving little left to be absorbed from the product. A regular maca powder can be processed without using temperatures as high as a gelatinized powder, and while the nutrients may not be as easy for the body to absorb, it will maintain its natural nutritional array, provided that the product was processed correctly. Above these two methods of processing maca is an old and traditional, yet innovative process called Raw Gelatinization Process. This process comes from an ancient practice where most of the starches are removed by precipitation without the use of high heat, thus leaving all enzymes and bio chemical compounds intact. Isn’t that amazing?
- Organic claims — If the product is claimed as organic, proper organic seals must be placed on the label and a certificate from an independent third party should back up those claims to ensure organic traceability all the way from the distributor to the processor to the farmer. If there is no seal, then the product is definitely not organic! Remember to always demand the proof.
- Any other claims, such as “University Certified” does not constitute guarantee that the product was done using good raw materials or following good standards; remember, universities do not certify products made by the private sector or corporations, any statement as such is usually a scam.
Overall, if the product is made with the right raw material and the right process, then the product should work and noticeable results be achieved in no time. Remember the old adage, ‘You get what you paid for’.
If you would like more information on the subject, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll gladly answer all your questions.
Jorge Urena is the Founder, President & CEO of UHTCO Corporation, a Canadian company of Peruvian origins dedicated to create, manufacture and distribute the most unique high quality products from Peru. UHTCO produces the best and most unique line of Maca Products under its MacaPro® brand. For more information please visit about.me/jorgeurena